The Chicago Wolves scored less than two minutes into their first game of 2019, but fell 3-1 to the Iowa Wild on Wednesday night at Allstate Arena in the battle for first place in the Western Conference.
Defenseman Dylan Coghlan tallied the lone goal for Chicago (20-11-3-1) while goaltender Max Lagace (8-6-2) saved 23 shots.
Forward Matt Read scored twice while forward Joel Eriksson Ek also notched a goal for Iowa (19-8-4-3). Netminder Andrew Hammond (9-4-1) saved 28 of 29 shots as the Wild climbed over the Wolves for first place in the Central Division and the Western Conference.
“Again, unfortunately, special teams were the difference tonight,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “We gave up a short-handed goal and it totally killed us. It punched us right in the gut.”
The Wolves took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, scoring on a 4-on-4 play at 1:50. Forward Reid Duke was in front of Hammond’s crease with the puck and spun to take a back-handed shot, which was turned away but landed right on Coghlan’s stick for a perfect look at the back door.
Read recorded his two goals in the second period, notching a short-hander at 1:10 to knot the game before giving Iowa a lead at 6:13 when he put away a rebound that Lagace had stretched to save with his paddle.
The Wolves battled to even the score in the third period and pulled Lagace for an extra attacker, but Eriksson Ek put an insurance goal in the empty net at 19:51 to cap the 3-1 win.
The Wolves return to Allstate to host the San Antonio Rampage in a 7 p.m. matchup Friday that features a Craft Beer Arena Crawl.